Scott gives parents and teachers at schools with tyrannical principals the runaround

It's so unique maybe it should be patented: "The Michael Scott Runaround."

Tell any group of parents or teachers who are complaining about irregularities in a school where the principal and/or the local school council has clout that there is "nothing we can do." But if you decide you want to do something, just do it — no matter what the LSC, teachers, parents and students say or want.

While controversial Gunsaulus LSC president Reid Fanelli (against pillar) awaits his turn to speak at the July 22, 2009, Board of Education meeting, Gunsaulus parent Gail Suwe (above at microphone) explains some of the problems that many parents are facing at the school. Above Ms. Suwe's head the monitor shows Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott, who has been telling parents from Gunsaulus there is nothing the Board can do because the parents and community elected the LSC. Substance photograph by George N. Schmidt.As Chicago's version of "school reform" goes national under the administration of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, nothing is more profoundly important for the nation's 100,000 public schools than the corrupt model that has been perfected in Chicago by Duncan and his long-time colleague, Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott.

Basically, the Duncan-Scott formula was to allow the city's public schools to be slowly undermined by powerful politicians, to replace trained and experienced educators with political appointees at all levels, to ignore allegations of corruption against those with corporate or political power, and to cover the whole edifice up with a massive blanket of corporate propaganda supported by the city's corporate media.

And it has been at the local school level across the city where teachers, parents, children and honest principals and administrators have suffered most from the unprecedented level of corruption that has grown in Chicago since the Illinois General Assembly handed Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley dictatorial control over the city's massive public school system (the third largest in the USA) beginning in 1995 with the passage of the "Amendatory Act".

The "Michael Scott Method" (or "The Michael Scott Runaround") of delaying and dissembling is on display at the monthly meetings of the Chicago Board of Education every time the "little guys" — parents, teachers, children, and community leaders — try to bring to the Board of Education's attention serious problems, including major corruption, at politically favored schools.

It's as clear as the difference between Julian High School and Brooks High School, or the difference between Prescott Elementary School and Oglesby Elementary School. As Robbie the Creep says in "Dirty Dancing" — "Some matter and some don't."

Board backs certain local school councils, principals

Once again, at the July 22, 2009, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, groups of teachers and parents utilized the public participation opportunity to ask that the Chicago Board of Education stop what they characterize as tyrannical principals from continuing to undermine their schools.

In June 2009, the teachers and parents who asked for action came from Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep academic magnet high school. They reported to the Board that their principal, backed by the alderman of the 9th Ward, had tyrannized the Local School Council, effectively forcing the council to cancel its June meeting because of thuggery. (See the Brooks story in the July 2009 on line edition of SubstanceNews).

Others had also appeared.

Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott looks towards the camera while the Gunsaulus controversy was being presented to the Board. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.On July 22, the complaints once again came from Prescott Elementary School and Gunsaulus Elementary School.

In both cases, the schools' principals had been criticized for numerous violations of Board Rules and other regulations. In both cases, the local schools' local school councils had failed to hold their organizing meetings as scheduled. At Prescott, the LSC postponed its July meeting until August, despite being warned by Jose Villasenor (representing the Board) that the meeting should be held in July. According to teachers who were present at the meeting, Prescott principal Erin Roche shouted at Mr. Villasenor at one point.

At Gunsaulus, the LSC announced a meeting, then didn't tell people it had been cancelled at the last minute. In the case of Gunsaulus, the Board's representative stood outside the school as the sun slowly set, waiting for the meeting that never was.

The runaround?

Prescott Elementary School teachers returned to the Board of Education again on July 22, 2009, to ask that the illegalities, irregularities, and unprofessional activities of their school's principal Erin Roche and some members of the school's LSC be investigated and stopped. Three Prescott teachers and CORE member Kristine Maylee stood in support of teacher LSC member Suzanne Dunn (above at podium) as she read the latest account of what some are calling the Prescott soap opera. But teachers pointed out that Roche's ability to ignore the Open Meetings Act, thwart special education rules, and even shout at a CPS official during a meeting of the schools LSC haven't prompted CPS to act, because, they believe, Roche is favored by local real estate developers and comes out of the clout-heavy "New Leaders for New Schools" program. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Once again, on July 22, teachers and parents from the schools were told by Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott that there was nothing he could do. After all, Scott said again and again, the LSC is elected and the Board doesn't have the power to rescind the LSC's decisions.

"Tell that to Julian and Oglesby," one observer whispered during the meeting.

While the President of the Chicago Board of Education is telling the public with a straight face that there is no way to remove a principal who breaks the rules, the CEO of the same school system went out in April and had two principals removed for -- breaking the rules?

The Friday before Spring Vacation began, CEO Ron Huberman had his staff call the media to cover the story of his removal of the principal of Julian High School. The same afternoon, the principal of Oglesby Elementary School was also removed.

As a publicity stunt, Huberman's removal of the principals of Julian and Oglesby worked. Huberman not only got on TV for the action, but even got into Newsweek for it.

Shun Haynes (above at microphone) appealed to the Board of Education at its June 24, 2009, meeting to do something about the thuggery and intimidation at Brooks High School that had thwarted an LSC meeting two weeks earlier. Haynes, who was President of the Brooks LSC through the end of school in June, was preparing to call on the LSC to issue its performance evaluation on Brooks Principal Dushaun Brown. Instead of a meeting, Haynes was forced to endure a lengthy and threatening confrontation with a group of precinct workers brought in by Alderman Anthony Beale, who supports Brown against the wishes of the majority of the staff and students. Despite the presence of an official from the Chicago Public Schools, the Brooks LSC meeting was undermined by Beale's colleagues. With Haynes above is retired Brooks teacher Hubert Jackson, who has tried to bring the corruption at Brooks to the Board's attention for more than two years, unsuccessfully because the Board now defers to powerful politicians against parents and teachers in most wards across Chicago. In almost every case, Board President Michael Scott will make certain that the alderman is supported, even when, at Brooks, the alderman is clearly undermining many of the educational dreams of the parents, teachers, and the school itself. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. But when Michael Scott claims that there is never anything the Board can do when teachers and parents bring evidence to the Board of wrongdoing by principals, it's simply not true. 

First draft posted July 25, 2009, at 3:27 a.m. Final draft to be posted by July 26, 2009, midnight.

Final edited version of this article posted at July 30, 2009, 3:00 a.m. CDT. If you choose to reproduce this article in whole or in part, or any of the graphical material included with it, please give full credit to SubstanceNews as follows: Copyright © 2009 Substance, Inc., Please provide Substance with a copy of any reproductions of this material and we will let you know our terms. We are asking all of our readers to either subscribe to the print edition of Substance (a bargain at $16 per year) or make a donation. Both options are available on the right side of our Home Page. For further information, feel free to call us at our office at 773-725-7502.


July 25, 2009 at 10:24 AM

By: Marshall 's Juan Gardner

Gardner is a Criminal

With all the information from the Board Meeting how many principals were displaced or removed on Thursday? Marshall 's Juan Gardner got the boot and his mentor Keith Foley was sent over to Douglas. Marshall got Mr. Clayton from Marconi Elementary. Anyone know any more changes. --Mschiff22

Gardner is a Criminal

not only should he have been removed but the area officer and cps attorneys who covered up a criminal working as a principal should be prosecuted and fired.

587 F. Supp. 2d 951; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96137

[*970] Finally, there is the matter of Gardner's false statement to this Court. In his declaration filed in opposition to Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction, Gardner declared under penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746 that he received the letter from Coach Gray on September 28, 2007, outlining concerns about Plaintiff's conduct toward his players. (R. 163, Pl.'s Mot. for Default, Ex. 3, Gardner Decl. P 8.) We now know this statement to be false, since the forensic examiner's investigation revealed that letter did not exist until October 18, 2007, after Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. The fact that the letter was created and printed from Gardner's own computer suggests that Gardner knew the statement in his declaration was false. 9 In the face of the serious accusations raised by Plaintiff, Gardner offers nothing in the [**49] way of explanation for the apparent falsity contained in his declaration. This Court takes very seriously the submission of materially false declarations, and will therefore require Gardner to show cause why this matter should not be referred to the U.S. Attorney for potential prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 1623. 10

9 Gardner admitted at his deposition that Coach Gray "may have" typed the letter on his computer, but he continued to assert that the letter was written on September 28 or September 29, prior to Plaintiff's termination. (R. 149, Defs.' Facts, Ex. F, Gardner Dep. Tr. at 240-41.)

10 That statute provides, HN16Go to this Headnote in the case."Whoever under oath (or in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under [28 U.S.C. § 1746]) in any proceeding before or ancillary to any court or grand jury of the United States knowingly makes any false material declaration . . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both." 18 U.S.C. § 1623(a).


July 25, 2009 at 1:20 PM

By: xian from CORE


It's frustrating that Mr. Scott can be challenged directly on this issue one month and then take his giant expense account home and return with the same story the next month.

I hope Mr. Scott will reconsider his policy of lying to the public as it hurts the education of the children of Chicago.

July 27, 2009 at 1:28 AM

By: Gale Suwe

Parent from Gunsaulus Academy

George, you hit the nail on the head. It is indeed a run around trying to converse with Mr. Scott.

Having appeared before the board three times this year, you would think that I would have become accustomed to Mr. Scott's patented "runaround". I keep thinking that logic, reason, and well thought out words will make an impact.

I think my most painful groan was when Mr. Scott explained the problem in more detail to the parent from Schmidt who was also reporting principal problems. Mr. Scott stated that the principal's contract is with the LSC, and as such the principal is not really an employee of CPS, but rather employed by the LSC. When the parent asked who pays the principal, Mr. Scott stated that CPS does. The parent then logically stated that the entity who pays the principal is the employer, but Mr. Scott again stated that the contract is with the LSC and the BOE is powerless.

No matter what cirumstance is brought before the BOE, we are told they are powerless. If they have no powers, then why have them at all?

Clearly principal contracts were not inviolable at Julian or the other schools. Clearly the LSC's were circumvented.

And what of Gunsaulus? I have repeatedly presented evidence which shows that our LSC is unresponsive, dismissive and insulting to parents, and deliberately violated the Open Meetings Act on two occasions.The LSC has 3 vacant positions, and there is no evidence that they will be filled any time soon. THIS is the LSC that I am supposed to rely on to handle the problems with the principal?

Mr. Scott has not adequately addressed the question of what to do when the LSC is corrupt.

As Xian pointed out, lying to the public does hurt the education of our children. How is my child supposed to learn in an environment where the principal and LSC deliberately and frequently break rules? How can my child learn when the teachers are not valued, belittled, and treated in such a way that they are actually impeded from doing teaching effectively? I resent the idea that my son, and the other children at Gunsaulus are treated like pawns in some weird power trip on the part of the principal and the LSC.

And it is frustrating month after month. And I wonder, doesn't Mr. Scott get tired of giving the same responses to the same issues? Doesn't he get tired of the same old faces?

And so I would also like to join in with Xian and respectfully request that Mr. Scott reconsider his policy of lying to the public.

July 30, 2009 at 6:19 PM

By: Exhausting!!

If the BOE pays them, they can FIRE them too!

It's too bad, this craze of tyrannical principals let loose to run havoc on these specific schools. The saddest part being that these principals could all be having the GREATEST jobs in CPS!

When our new principal arrived last year, 97% of the staff was enthusiastic and excited about the changes to come! The principal was welcomed with open arms, into our home, into our sweet little neighborhood school.

After a year of lies, unnecessary brutality, and character assassination this enthusiastic staff now dreads returning to work for this principal and the equally despised assistant principal.

How can a handful of principals mean more to the BOE than the teachers and staff these principals inherited? Teachers and staff who have given their blood, sweat and tears to make their schools safe, learning, loving communities! The BOE is scared these horrible principals will sue them if they are fired...but at what price? These principals are ruining peoples livelihoods, jeopardizing their careers and causing physical and mental illness for the dedicated teachers and staff!

If these principals are paid by the BOE, then the BOE can fire them!! And, they don't have to ask the LSC's for permission!

The indecency and blatant refusal to address the issues raised at every BOE meeting about these principals is appalling!

Michael Scott, Barbara Eason-Watkins and Ron Huberman stand up and do the right thing! Helps these teachers and staff who are being terrorized by their principals! And the only way to help them, is to fire these principals and put a "do not hire" on their file so they can't ruin additional schools! I'm sure there are plenty of jobs at the board for these ruthless individuals, but they should not be allowed to run a school!

October 15, 2009 at 7:01 PM

By: Eli's Coming

The Wheels of the Gods Turn Slowly

Well the CTU finally came to life and published right on page 1 of its newsletter the Tale of the Tyrants. What a shock for those principals who have gotten all comfy, since no one in the city cares to ask them what the hell is the matter with them.

The Field School principal has been terrorizing below the radar. He will be unhappy this weekend.

Roche at Prescott, despite being visited over the summer by Barbara Eason-Watkins, Marilyn Stewart, Colleen Dykas, Rachel Resnick, Drew Bares, John Butterfield, Mark Ochoa, and Gregg Cox, all of whom prevailed on him to apologize to his faculty, continued on his Smash Mouth World Tour—first having caused mayhem at Ravenswood School and currently destroying the personnel and morale at Prescott. He’s feeling so Teflon that he chose not to advertise the October LSC meeting on the marquee. God forbid the public attend.

The Gunsaulus School principal, Amy Kotz, has had plenty of ink in Catalyst Chicago, but like these other clowns remains bulletproof.

The Washington High School principal sounds like a sweetheart.

The majority of the CTU membership is not aware of the nightmare that their colleagues have been enduring. While CTU is late to the table, and still has a long way to go in bringing justice to these teachers, kudos to them for publishing the story.

October 15, 2009 at 9:39 PM

By: Zeta

Don't forget White School!

Don't forget the cowardly little principal at the Edward White school who has the audacity to threaten teachers and tell them they'd better not come back to their jobs the following year or else she will "write them up every chance she can". Also, she bullies the children by using the power of the Law Department to harass children. Due to her lack of leadership skills some students have had 3-4 expulsion hearings in the last year. It's as if this is the only strategy she knows when it comes to dealing with troubled students. She constantly picks on certain students until they break down and have emotional outburst. They she writes them up and keeps giving out expulsion hearings. When the child returns to school they are angrier and more hostile which results in another expulsion hearing .This ridiculous scenario takes place over and over again with various students. The only person needing an expulsion is her.

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